Music Listening for Maintaining Attention of Older Adults With Cognitive Impairments


D. Gregory


Journal of Music Therapy




Twelve older adults with cognitive impairments who were participants in weekly community-based group music therapy sessions, 6 older adults in an Alzheimer's caregivers' group, and 6 college student volunteers listened to a 3.5 minute prepared audiotape of instrumental excerpts of patriotic selections. The tape consisted of 7 excerpts ranging from 18 s to 34 s in duration. Each music excerpt was followed by a 7-9 s period of silence, a "wait" excerpt. Listeners were instructed to move a Continuous Response Digital Interface (CRDI) to the name of the music excerpt depicted on the CRDI overlay when they heard a music excerpt. Likewise, they were instructed to move the dial to the word "WAIT" when there was no music. They were also instructed to maintain the dial position for the duration of each music or silence excerpt. Statistical analysis indicated no significant differences between the caregivers' and the college students' group means for total dial changes, correct and incorrect recognitions, correct and incorrect responses to silence excerpts, and reaction times. The mean scores of these 2 groups were combined and compared with the mean scores of the group of elderly adults with cognitive impairments. The mean total dial changes were significantly lower for the listeners with cognitive impairments, resulting in significant differences in all of the other response categories except incorrect recognitions. In addition, their mean absence of response to silence excerpts was significantly higher than their mean absence of responding to music excerpts. Their mean reaction time was significantly slower than the comparison group's reaction time. To evaluate training effects, 10 of the original 12 music therapy participants repeated the listening task with assistance from the therapist (treatment) immediately following the first listening (baseline). A week later the order was reversed for the 2 listening trials. Statistical and graphic analysis of responses between first and second baseline responses indicate significant improvement in responses to silence and music excerpts over the 2 sessions. Applications of the findings to music listening interventions for maintaining attention, eliciting social interaction between clients or caregivers and their patients, and evaluating this population's affective responses to music are discussed.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Alzheimer's and Related Dementias; Caregivers; Cognitive Abilities; Elderly; Interpersonal Relations; Music Listening; Music Therapy; Neurodegenerative Disorders; Young Adults

Indexed Terms

Acoustic Stimulation; Elderly; Elderly; Alzheimer Disease; Attention; Cognition Disorders; Stress

Study Type

Quasi-Experimental Study; Quantitative Methods

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Document Type